THE NEW WORLD ORDER
and balloons and possibly even a navigable
balloon, they could imagine ; they had known
of such things for a hundred years ; but a heavier
than air machine, flying in defiance of wind and
gravity ! that they knew was nonsense. The
would-be aviator was the typical comic inventor.
Any fool could laugh at him. Now consider
how completely the air is conquered.
And who did it ? Nobody and everybody*
Twenty thousand brains or so, each contributing
a notion, a device, an amplification. They
stimulated one another ; they took off from one
another. They were like excited ganglia in a
larger brain sending their impulses to and fro.
They were people of the most diverse race and
colour. You can write down perhaps a hundred
people or so who have figured conspicuously in
the air, and when you examine the role they
have played, you will find for the most part that
they are mere notorieties of the Lindbergh
type who have put themselves modestly but
firmly in the limelight and can lay no valid
claim to any effective contribution whatever.
You will find many disputes about records and
priority in making this or that particular step,
but the lines of suggestion, the growth and
elaboration of the idea, have been an altogether
untraceable process. It has been going on